Content note: Talking about transitioning genders. May cause nervousness or squeamishness. Click here to skip to the "how do I girl voice" part, if you're trying to learn. You may have to expand the cut tags first, or click on the title of this essay to load it as a separate page.
Imagine that your survival as a person depended on your learning how to wiggle your ears.
Starting tomorrow, you're going to live undercover in a society of floppy-eared elves like the ones in World of Warcraft. You can wear floppy-ear makeup pieces just fine, but these elves use their ears to communicate subtle meanings in conversation, and if you can't do it right -- or at all -- they'll immediately know you're an outsider. So if you don't already know how to wiggle your ears, you've got to start learning, like, yesterday.
That's about how we felt when we found out we had to learn to affect a feminine resonance and tone of voice by ourselves. >_>;
If you're transitioning female-to-male, the hormones you'll take will basically do the job for you. They widen your vocal cords so that your voice gets deeper and more resonant. But if you're transitioning the other way, you've suddenly got to learn a ton of new skills ... starting with how to talk while squeezing your throat, so there's less space for sound to resonate in.
At the same time, you have to learn how to shift from "chest resonance" to "head resonance" while talking, so it feels like putting your voice in an imaginary corset and trying to hold it there and carry on a normal conversation that way. But even that isn't enough, because as it turns out, women and girls are socialized to talk in sort of a sing-song way, using emphasis in a lot more places and making it sound like a lot of statements are questions.
So you basically have to take acting lessons while your voice is wearing that corset. Oh, and if you overdo it at first, you can scar your vocal cords and cause permanent damage.
This is the part where I'd normally, like, other the person who's saying this. Try to turn off my empathy and set it aside, and be all like, "wow, the stuff some people have to go through." Because if I actually gave it more thought than that, it'd be terrifying.( Read more... )
I wish it were okay to tell people "I'm trying. I'm not very good at this yet, but I'm learning." Or even "I don't know how to do this; please treat me like a person regardless."
If it were, I wouldn't have been so scared that I'd never acquire this skill.